San want bigger say in their own affairs

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Windhoek

While the Governor of Omaheke Region Festus Ueitele was handing the Vice-President Nickey Iyambo a report on the relocation and resettlement of San communities in Omaheke Region, a group of San sat outside Iyambo’s office hoping for a chance to meet him. They wanted to inform him of how they wish their affairs to be administered and that they have a bigger say in matters affecting their future.

The group, led by Windhoek lawyer Dirk Conradie of Conradie and Damaseb Law Chambers, insisted that the meeting between Ueitele and the vice-president had not included representatives of the traditional authority, and as such did not constitute the views of the community.

“They [government representatives] hold meetings on our behalf as marginalized communities. They discuss our situations in meetings but we are not part of any of those discussions or deliberations. We want to run our own trust fund activities. We are a recognised traditional authority and we want to do things ourselves, the way we think is best. We don’t need someone else to talk or make decisions on our behalf,” senior councillor Sofia Karuhumba said as they waited outside the vice-president’s office on Thursday.

The group never got an audience with Iyambo but vowed to return on another day to make themselves heard.In a presentation to Iyambo, Ueitele called on government to consider setting up a school, a clinic and a police station at the newly established settlements at Otjiuapehuri, Corridor 17 and Otjinene, where the bulk of the marginalized San will be relocated.

On the progress of housing provision to the affected communities, Ueitele said 20 houses are to be constructed at Corridor 17, of which 10 are near completion but his office needs more money to finish the rest. He added that a lower primary school that will accommodate Grade 1 to Grade 4 learners would be completed by October this year.

The school is to be equipped with dormitories for boys and girls and will open its doors in 2016. Ueitele said the area of about 14 000 hectares needs to be cleared and cattle need to be purchased. A pipeline will be constructed from Ondora to Otjiuamapeta by the Namibia German Special Initiative Project (NGSIP) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry. In addition, another area has been earmarked for resettlement of the San of Epukiro, but before they settle there the NGSIP plans to install a borehole.

Ueitele informed Iyambo that his office will on August 18 distribute cattle to 55 San families at Corridor 13 and invited the vice-president to be the guest of honour at the ceremony. He said the Ministry of Environment and Tourism promised to introduce game farming but the envisaged area needs to be fenced off.

He said the area is remote and far from service centres and therefore the setting up of a clinic, school and a police station at all three sites should be strongly considered. As an interim measure he proposed that vehicles be provided and staff appointed to serve as caretakers.

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